Students Organize Gardening Project at Kirksville Manor Care Center

Spring is here and Truman students are digging into the dirt with residents at the Kirksville Manor Care Center (KMCC).

A group of three students participating in The Grassroots Environmentalism course of the Truman State University Department of Biology is working with Nancy Tate, the KMCC’s activity director, to build a raised garden for the residents. The KMCC has an existing garden on the premise that Tate uses to promote fun, stimulating activities that allow the residents to interact with the environment and nature; this project is a effort to extend these activities to the residents who may not be physically capable of bending over a garden and would otherwise not be able to participate in the gardening process.

The students are conducting this project to fulfill the service-learning component of their course. Grassroots Environmentalism is led by three University student preceptors with the assistance of a biology faculty member and is an experimental course that is centered on the service-learning experience. Students in the class split off into groups at the beginning of the semester and chose a local environmentally-related problem or issue to address through a service-learning project. During the 16 week semester, each student group identifies an issue, develops a project idea and submits a proposal to address the issue, and then actually implements the project. The primary goal of the course is to afford students the opportunity to gain practical, hands-on experience in leading a project from its conception to its completion. Ideally, a course of this nature develops the tools students will need for future project development in either their professional or service endeavors.

Having [past] the planning stage, the students are diving into the implementation stage of the project and recently planted seedlings for the garden with the residents of KMCC and are now focusing on the actual construction of the raised garden bed. They will soon deliver the garden bed and begin transferring the seedlings.

“I cannot explain the thrill that I experienced as I watched the residents take the project off the paper and start its growth at the planting program,” student Kati Kremer said, who is part of the three-member team planning and implementing the project. “The excitement I feel every time I visit Manor Care to check on the seedlings reminds me of how far my group has come since we first chose our project idea. I can only imagine how I’ll feel when we begin construction of the garden.”

The student group has also arranged for the existing, traditional garden at the KMCC to be cleaned up as one of the projects for the Big Event, sponsored by Truman’s SERVE Center. While the students have been working hard to spruce up the gardening situation, Tate has incorporated other garden-improvement activities with the residents, such as decorating stepping stones, to help generate excitement and a sense of ownership among the residents. Tate mentioned that she thinks what these students are doing for the residents is great and that it’s wonderful to see the residents so enthused about a project and to see them interacting with the younger generations.

And, indeed, the student group is currently searching for a way to involve even more youth in the program. They hope to team up with a high school organization to provide consistent, sustainable programming to the gardening efforts at the KMCC. But for now, the students are going to switch out their gardening gloves for a table saw and nail gun to get the garden beds built.
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